Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Vesākha a.k.a. Wesak Day is an annual holiday observed traditionally by Buddhists in the Indian subcontinent, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the South East Asian countries of Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, and Indonesia.[1] Sometimes informally called "Buddha's Birthday", it actually encompasses the birth, enlightenment (nirvāna), and passing away (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha.[2]

The exact date of Vesākha varies according to the various lunar calendars used in different traditions. In Theravada countries following the Buddhist calendar, it falls on the full moon Uposatha day (typically the 5th or 6th lunar month). Vesākha Day in China is on the eighth of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. The date varies from year to year in the Western Gregorian calendar, but falls in April or May.


The decision to agree to celebrate the Vesākha as the Buddha’s birthday was formalized at the first Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists held in Sri Lanka in 1950, although festivals at this time in the Buddhist world are a centuries-old tradition. The Resolution that was adopted at the World Conference reads as follows:
“ That this Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, while recording its appreciation of the gracious act of His Majesty, the Maharaja of Nepal in making the full-moon day of Vesak a Public Holiday in Nepal, earnestly requests the Heads of Governments of all countries in which large or small number of Buddhists are to be found, to take steps to make the full-moon day in the month of May a Public Holiday in honour of the Buddha, who is universally acclaimed as one of the greatest benefactors of Humanity. ”

On Vesākha Day, Buddhists all over the world commemorate events of significance to Buddhists of all traditions: The birth, enlightenment and the passing away of Gautama Buddha. As Buddhism spread from India it was assimilated into many foreign cultures, and consequently Vesākha is celebrated in many different ways all over the world.

Bringing happiness to others

Celebrating Vesākha also means making special efforts to bring happiness to the unfortunate like the aged, the handicapped and the sick. To this day, Buddhists will distribute gifts in cash and kind to various charitable homes throughout the country. Vesākha is also a time for great joy and happiness, expressed not by pandering to one’s appetites but by concentrating on useful activities such as decorating and illuminating temples, painting and creating exquisite scenes from the life of the Buddha for public dissemination. Devout Buddhists also vie with one another to provide refreshments and vegetarian food to followers who visit the temple to pay homage to the Enlightened One.

Wesak In Malaysia

Celebrated by Buddhists which marks three momentous events in Buddha's life - his birthday, enlightenment, and achievement of Nirvana, the Wesak celebration in Malaysia begins at dawn when devotees gather at the Buddhist temples nationwide to meditate on the Eight Precepts. Donations, giving food to the needy, offerings of incense, joss sticks and prayers are carried out. The sutras are chanted in unison by monks in saffron robes. The celebration is highlighted by a candle procession. Wesak Day in Malaysia is a national public holiday.


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